CHICAGO--Cable giant Comcast is teaming up with Skype to offer its subscribers video calling on their TVs, in a move that could bring more affordable video conferencing to the home.
On the eve of the Cable Show here, the companies today announced that Comcast will be offering the Skype service through the TV to its broadband subscribers. The companies are still working out all the details of the service, and they're expected to begin testing it in the next few months. The Cable Show is an annual conference and trade show, where cable operators from around the country gather. … Read more
Should celebrity chefs be worried? Willow Garage's PR2 robot is cooking up a storm, what with chocolate chip cookies at MIT and now Bavarian breakfasts in Germany.
Researchers at Technical University Munich recently paired PR2 with Rosie, a two-armed robot that has a Kinect 3D sensor like PR2. The robo-couple enacted a charming household scene of shopping for ingredients and cooking together.
In the vid below, the robots are seen preparing a Bavarian breakfast of Weisswurst sausages. PR2 retrieves objects from a shelf in a shopping simulation, then uses a bread slicer to cut up a baguette. It doesn't seem like PR2 uses the shopping goods when cooking, however.
Meanwhile, Rosie puts the Weisswurst in a pot, boils them, and places them on a plate for PR2 to serve with the bread. The demo, prepared by Munich-based CoTeSys (Cognition for Technical Systems), gets a round of applause by onlookers.
Area 51 is one of the most enduring mysteries and sources of speculation in American history.
Located inside the Nevada Test and Training Range, the flat, dry lake bed known as Groom Lake has been the home to some of the nation's most advanced espionage and weapons technology, hair-raising tales of Cold War brinksmanship, and possibly much worse, according to a new book about the top-secret military base.
In the course of her research, she interviewed dozens of men who worked or lived at Area 51 and are only now talking to one another and the public about their time there. She also interviewed one anonymous source who suggested a deeply dark side of the research conducted at Area 51: human experimentation and psychological warfare (and, of course, a high-level cover-up).
I interviewed Jacobsen, along with Jim Friedman, who was a senior field administrator at Area 51 for 13 years, and TD Barnes, a radar specialist who lived and worked at Area 51, in Nevada near the edge of the enormous testing range and base. We drove up to the gate at Area 51, talked at length about the planes and other technologies developed there and dug into the controversy surrounding the most shocking parts of Jacobsen's book.
The interviews and footage originally aired on CBS' "The Early Show," and these three videos are extra footage and longer interviews about the topics covered in the book. First, a journey down the long Nevada highway and desolate dirt road that leads to the back gate at Area 51: the most intimidating gate you've ever seen. When we got there, there was broken glass on the ground, an ominous camera gazing down at us, and absolutely no one in sight. But I could feel the weight of eyes on me with every moment we were there (and I expected a blow-dart in the back at any second!). … Read more
Two iPhone 4s will be on board NASA's final shuttle mission next month.
According to Odyssey Space Research, it has developed an iPhone app, called SpaceLab for iOS, that will be used on the International Space Station for several months this year to conduct space research. The iPhones will get to the ISS on the Atlantis space shuttle.
While in space, those in the International Space Station will complete four experiments. According to Odyssey, a "Limb Tracker" experiment will involve taking pictures of the Earth with the iPhone, and "matching an arc to the horizon through manipulation of an overlay." That experiment, the organization said, will help to "yield an estimate of altitude and 'off-axis' angle, a measurement of the angle of the image with respect to the Earth's center."
In addition, the iPhone 4 will be used in a "sensor calibration experience" that will help to improve the accuracy of future iPhone measurements. The iPhone's gyroscope and accelerometer will be employed to determine the latitude and longitude of the spacecraft.
Finally, the researchers will use the iPhone to measure radiation effects on the smartphone while in space.
To bring earthlings in on the fun, Odyssey has launched its application in Apple's App Store. Users can buy the app for 99 cents and perform the same experiments with information simulated "to account for the presence of gravity."
NASA's aging Voyager spacecraft, more than three decades outbound from Earth and approaching the outermost limits of the solar system, may be seeing signs of what scientists believe are huge magnetic bubbles churning at the interface between the sun's influence and interstellar space. The unexpected bubbles, shaped like sausages more than 100 million miles across, likely affect how high-energy cosmic rays pass into the inner solar system and may shed light on how stars interact with their galactic environments.
"It's exciting. We're learning new things almost every day," Voyager project scientist Ed Stone said.… Read more
Have you ever forgotten to turn your cell phone off during a flight? Did you survive?
The question might seem slightly churlish, but the airline industry would like you to know that your little electronic devices--yes, just one of them--can really, truly, seriously mess with the aircraft's systems.
ABC News managed to get hold of a report by the International Air Transport Association that makes for very interesting reading. For it seems to link up to 75 incidents on planes with interference from cell phones or other electronic devices.
Rational minds will, no doubt, judge the evidence through their … Read more
Austin Whitney graduated from UC Berkeley just last month, and he already has a full-time job. Whitney works as a human lab rat.
The 22-year-old paraplegic, who captured headlines recently when he walked across the stage at his commencement wearing bionic legs, now spends long days with the engineers who developed the customized robotic suit. He passionately believes in the device and its potential to alter the lives of those with spinal cord injuries, and he wants to do whatever he can to help perfect the prototype--for himself and others like him.
"We want to make the Model T version of an exoskeleton," Whitney told CNET. "There are health benefits to mobility. It's good for the circulatory and muscular systems, and there's a social and mental benefit. Four years ago, I thought I was going to die on a hospital bed."
That was 2007, when Whitney was 18 years old and got into a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
"The spinal cord injury meant I would likely never walk again," he said. But he did, taking his first public steps in four years at a graduation ceremony at Edwards Track Stadium on May 7 (see the video below).
During the nine months prior, however, he had experimented with walking in a custom-fit robotic device developed on campus in the lab of mechanical engineering professor Professor Homayoon Kazerooni, who is also founder of Berkeley Bionics. That company makes the eLegs robotic exoskeleton, which is currently undergoing trials and is expected to become available to rehabilitation centers by the end of the year, with a personal version for sale for an as-yet-undisclosed price in 2013.
A friend who plays wheelchair basketball with Whitney told him about Kazerooni, one of a number of innovators around the world devoted to developing robotic exoskeletons for wheelchair users. After speaking with him on the phone, Whitney decided to visit the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory. "It is like something out of a movie set--exoskeletons hanging from the walls everywhere," he said.
It's inside that lab where Whitney does most of his walking these days, though he does on occasion roam the campus in his bionic suit. He has degrees in history and political science, and plans to attend law school in the fall of 2012. But for now, he spends about six hours a day, from noon to 6 p.m., working (for pay) in the lab. … Read more
Some machines are perfect for just one person. A Formula 1 car, for example. Or a Heat-1X rocket.
You haven't heard of the Heat-1X? I feel you might be missing out on something rather special. For this is a rocket built by a Danish nonprofit called Copenhagen Suborbitals. It's a rocket built for one.
You might be wondering if something of this sort might ever get off the ground.
So below I present video evidence of a test launch of the Heat-1X. The New Scientist tells me it cost about $69,000 to build, which is cheerily less than what it takes to buy one of the larger BMWs.
The economics of this project might sound a trifle idealistic. Indeed, last year, a launch went somewhat awry when a hairdryer malfunctioned. This would be a hairdryer that was being used to provide heat inside the rocket.
However, Friday presented us with empirical evidence that the Heat-1X could really fly.… Read more
NASA's Opportunity rover has logged a total of more than 30 kilometers (18.64 miles) of travel on Mars since 2004, thanks to a recent drive of 482 feet (146.8 meters) that put it past the 30 km milestone.
In a report, NASA noted the distance is "50 times the distance originally planned for the mission and more than 12 times the distance racehorses will run next week at the Belmont Stakes."
The twin rover Spirit has been out of communication with Earth since March 2010 after driving 4.8 miles, … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Signaling the beginning of the end for NASA's storied shuttle program, the Endeavour plunged back to Earth today, closing out its 25th and final flight.
The baton is now passed to its sistership, Atlantis, which was hauled to the launching pad a few hours earlier for it July 8 blastoff on the program's final voyage.
With commander Mark Kelly and pilot Gregory Johnson at the controls, Endeavour dropped out of a moonless sky and into the glare of powerful xenon floodlights after a fiery descent from orbit, settling to a ghostly touchdown on runway 15 at 2:34 a.m. EDT.
Barreling down the 300-foot-wide landing strip at more than 200 mph, Johnson deployed a large red-and-white braking parachute, Kelly brought the nose down, and Endeavour coasted to a stop on the runway centerline.
"Houston, Endeavour. Wheels stopped," Kelly radioed in a traditional call to Houston.
"122 million miles flown during 25 challenging space flights, your landing ends a vibrant legacy for this amazing vehicle that will long be remembered," astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore replied from mission control. "Welcome home, Endeavour."
"Thank you, Houston," Kelly said. "You know, the space shuttle is an amazing vehicle, to fly through the atmosphere, hit it at Mach 25, steer through the atmosphere like an airplane, land on a runway. It is really, really an incredible ship."
He thanked "every person who's worked on Endeavour," saying "it's sad to see her land for the last time, but she really has a great legacy."… Read more